You gotta move or move on

Last last weekend, my AZ sister from another mister, Emily, came to visit me and go to Kenny Chesney’s Spread the Love concert. I was really excited to see Miranda Lambert and she was awesome. Sam Hunt also played…also amazing.

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We did yoga at the sculpture park and ate all the delicious food. I love having visitors and showing off my awesome city.

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Emily also helped me find a great new apartment! My lease was coming up real quick and while I had a plan A in place, things change and as Sam Hunt says, “you gotta move or move on.” Although Emily thinks it’s you gotta move TO move on. Thoughts?

Either way, I moved on Tuesday and I really like the new place! Err, at least what it WILL be once all the boxes are unpacked and Rigo has figured it out and calmed down a bit. He’s currently pretty sure I moved him and all our stuff there to leave him forever. My poor neighbors. Emily had a good idea to introduce him/alert the neighbors that he might be sad for a while in the new place and this is what I ended up with:

Rigo Intro

 

The new place is all of three miles away from where I was, but Seattle is full of unique neighborhoods so there’s a lot to explore. There are plenty of boring things that go along with moving, like packing and you know, moving, updating the DMV, blah blah blah. But there are fun things about moving too. My first month in the new place bucket list includes:

  1. Find my new running routes – easy 3-5 milers and longer loops for the weekends.
  2. Discover new restaurants. My new place is super walkable, so I have plenty of options for my new go-to sushi, burgers, coffee, Mexican, ice cream. Yum!
  3. Get to a November Project workout and running meetup. I’m much closer to their usual locations, so my typical excuse doesn’t work anymore.
  4. Find new walk routes for Rigo and check out the nearby dog park.
  5. Jump in a nearby body of water…I’m close to a few to choose from!
  6. Switch my holds to a closer library branch. I use the library ALL. THE. TIME. I used to just get ebooks, but I’m back on a hard copy kick and check out new release DVDs too. The new branch is walkable of course 🙂

What fun things do you like to do to settle into a new place?

 

Finding My New Yoga with ClassPass

In Arizona, I had my workout routine down. I loved Lifetime and its yoga and spin classes. It pained me to cancel my membership, regardless of the fact that I wasn’t going to live anywhere near one! There are sooo many options for working out in Seattle – an LA Fitness right by work, a 24 Hour a block from my apartment, my apartment gym, boutique gyms a few blocks away and an endless amount of specialized studios a stone’s throw away. Oh, and gorgeous weather and many new running routes to discover.

I was going to stick to my apartment gym and running outside for a while, but I was craving yoga, so when I got the opportunity to try a free month of ClassPass, I jumped on it.

ClassPass partners with local studios – spin, yoga, pilates, dance, barre, boxing, you name it – and for a monthly fee, you can attend classes at any of those studios. I think the fee is different depending on your market, but it’s cheaper than most monthly memberships at the partner studios and you get to mix it up instead of being stuck with just one type of workout.

The concept is wonderful, but in reality, I attended three classes at the same yoga studio closest to my new place (which is the max you can attend at any one studio in a given month). I’m still figuring out my routine (and traffic!) so I wasn’t able to get to any more. Once I get settled a little more, I may consider trying it again.

If you want to try ClassPass in your area, click here for $25 off your first month!

Seattle Expectations v. Reality

The idea of moving somewhere new is often accompanied by the idea of starting over. Before I moved to Seattle, I thought a lot about the why. It’s a big change and I wanted to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons and with appropriate expectations.

I knew it wasn’t going to be a complete fresh start, after all, I’m still me. I changed a lot around me, but a simple move wasn’t going to change who I was. If I wanted to do that, that would take some work. I guess the potential for new things is the whole idea of a fresh start.

Here are some ideas I had of how my life in Washington would be different and how that’s working out for me:

I would be an amazing runner. Well, no. There are certainly more opportunities to run – better weather at any time of the day and fun, new exciting routes, but I have yet to pick up a five mile a day habit.

I would write all the time. Well, since I’ve moved here, the weather has been amazing and decidedly “Arizona winter-like” so my ideas of sitting at the window watching the rain, drinking tea and writing the next great American novel have not quite happened. Yet. Everyone keeps telling me this weather will not last. I’m pretty sure I brought it with me from the desert and it’s here to stay. Also, I don’t have a table at which to write.

Also, I would read all the time. When not inspired to put pen to paper fingers to keyboard, the rain would surely inspire me to curl up and devour books in solid chunks. Yes and no. I’ve made up some ground on the lack of books I read in January, but I haven’t spent a whole day reading…again, the weather is quite uncooperative. My favorites this month: This Is Where I Leave You and Big Little Lies.

I would be so city chic. I couldn’t figure out my fashion in Arizona and I can’t figure it out here and that’s okay. Tell that to the five boxes of online shopping orders sitting on my bed.

My dog would become a city boy and come everywhere with me in this dog friendly city. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No. In the city, Rigo is even more scared and neurotic and bossypants. I’m working on this.

I would be super social. My job pretty much requires it and as a social introvert, I can hang, but I’m quite aware of when I need my alone time to recharge. However, my friend Robin who once upon a time relocated to Arizona has told me I must say yes to social invites until I have three friends, so I am getting out there. I knew people before I moved here, so while I’m being social with them, I’m afraid they don’t count toward my new friend tally, so for now I’m going to say I’m 0 for 3, but still going for it. My March is full of book clubs because this girl knows how to party.

Speaking of…I would have dance parties pretty much all the time. No. I have yet to push away my coffee table and dance it out.

I would be a terrible (scared and timid) city driver. No. Well, I’m actually the terrible (zipping around and driving fast) driver in a sea of pretty nice and courteous drivers. Normal in Arizona = asshole in Washington. Got it. I also assumed I’d be scared of parallel parking as I’ve never really learned how to do it. Now, a month in, by trial and error (but no dinged bumpers), I’m really good at it and I just want to do it all the time. But not on hills.

I would live in an amazingly beautiful place. Yep. There was only one day when I was coming into Seattle from the east when the water and city came into view and I was like, meh, seen it, and I realized it was far too soon to be unimpressed by the beauty and start taking it for granted. Even growing up in Arizona and being there for the last five years, I would still look around and remember how pretty it is, in its own right. It was a “pretty” I got used to, which is why I think Seattle, being so different, is just gorgeous. I can’t wait for spring and summer when there will be even more green!

Aaaand, now I realize that many of my expectations of city life and Seattle life have come from pop culture – The Killing, SATC, 10 Things I Hate About You, Fraiser, Grey’s Anatomy, Sleepless in Seattle.

Overall, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be exactly how I pictured it in my head. The ups and downs of real life are much better!

Life’s Short, Live Somewhere Awesome

The last few months have been…eventful. Moving out of Arizona has been on my mind for a few years now. There are many wonderful things I love and (spoiler alert) will miss about Arizona, but it didn’t feel like where I was supposed to be.

My two favorite cities could not be more different from each other, but last year I started looking seriously at Seattle and San Diego as my next new home. Having a job I liked in Phoenix gave me flexibility to be patient as I applied to new jobs in those cities. As an out-of-state candidate, I felt like a huge long shot, but I found a few opportunities that were great fits and finally got some traction in December and an offer right around the new year.

January was a total blur of every kind of stress imaginable, but three weeks ago, my condo was packed in an ABF UPack moving container (highly recommend it, I had a great experience with them) and en route and my mom, my dog and I hopped in my trusty little Corolla for a three-day, 1500 mile trip to the Pacific Northwest.

It’s been everything I’ve expected – and more, and less – but for the most part, it’s starting to feel like home.

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A morning walk around Lake Union.

The Hype

Lululemon LOVES its lulus. (Is that a thing? Do they call them lulus?) The stores generally have weekly community yoga classes and the locations by me also have run club and crossfit nights AND special series throughout the year, like yoga series and happy hours at local resorts.

In Phoenix, those events were all based out of three locations, but last month, a fourth location opened at Scottsdale Fashion Square. To celebrate, they loved their lulus before they even opened! They gave out Hype cards way back at the end of July/beginning of August (how is it September already?!) and I took mine around to check out the two out of the three fitness studio offerings and two juice bars in the Old Town area.

My first stop was StudioMixx. They are the “ultimate body sculpting system” with “cutting edge exercises, exhilarating workouts, rockin music, and all the energy of a dance party!” I would have liked to go to their signature Mixx class, but it didn’t work with my schedule, so I took their new Ballet Box class, which was 5 minutes of cardio/5 minutes of barre sculpting for an hour.

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Did I sweat? Yes. Did I like it? No. Did I not like it because it was too hard and I’m a wuss? No, I just found it to be awkward and confusing. The exercises kind of felt like what an 8-year-old would come up with if you set them loose in a gym with random equipment (bands, balls, gliders, etc.). That’s mean, I know. I also looked completely ridiculous, so maybe my vanity is part of the reason it wasn’t my favorite sweat session ever. To each her own. A friend went to their signature StudioMixx class and was equally unimpressed. I will say that it WAS a lot of muscle confusion and I expected to be sore like I was after a recent tabatta class I took at my gym, but I wasn’t.

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After Mixx, I stopped by Juice Core to get eight ounces of juiced goodness. I asked for green and was given two suggestions and I went with the Graditude. It’s fresh pressed and bottled to go in the store and gives you about a three day window to enjoy. It was pretty refreshing!

Saturday was my birthday and I decided to celebrate with a little sweat at Amenzone. This is a new studio I’ve had my eye on for a while and they just opened this Old Town location. The class is called Primal and it’s a functional fitness/training for life type of class – lugging tires, push ups, army crawls. It was tough! I spoke to a friend later that night who had been going for a few weeks and has had a lot of the Kool-Aid and she asked if I loved it, and I definitely couldn’t say that, but it was a good workout. I was pretty sore the next day (although not can’t-move kind of sore) found a really sweet tire bruise on my tricep!

AMEN

kaleI picked up a juice at Kaleidoscope after that. I usually shy away from celery, but all their greens had it in them, so I just went with the Keri (they’re named after local yoga instructors). It was good! It did have a celery aftertaste, but mixed with mint, it was refreshing. It did taste a lot like something I’ve made at home when I’ve been on juicing kicks, so I would have a hard time paying for it, but when you consider all the fresh produce that goes into the juice and the convenience factor, $10 probably isn’t too bad.

Happy with hitting 4/5 of the places on the Hype card (I skipped Karve – a pilates, barre, yoga, strength hybrid class), I went in to drop it off and check out the new store – so new, it wasn’t even on the directory so I walked ALL over the place to find it, only to see it was down the wing that I usually come in at and within sight of my boyfriend’s store, which I went to to say hello before I went down every other wing first! Oops! Now I know. It’s a good size, well-stocked and full of friendly educators and cute, quality, functional clothes, as always! I couldn’t resist the In the Flow Crop II, a Swiftly Tech Racerback (I ran in this in Idaho and it felt like I was wearing nothing…so amazing!) and their signature Power Y tank.

I thought this was a really cool way to drum up excitement for a new store – even though its brand devotees would have been excited just to have a new location – and give some local businesses a little love. The StudioMixx class was basically ALL Hype attendees (and I can see why)!

Are you a lulu? Do you like trying new studios and local boutique gyms? Would you prefer to make your own juice or do you like the convenience of the new ready-to-go juice stores?

Party on a Mat with my Homies?!

The Madison Improvement Club popped up on my radar maybe a few months ago. It’s a trendy little yoga and spin studio with a healthy cafe in Arcadia. I have a crush on Arcadia. If not for my full-blown love affair with North Scottsdale, I would totally move to Arcadia. For yesterday, though, I just went there for a yoga class at Madison.

They’ve been open for a while and seem to have grown a decent little following, but did a grand opening party yesterday with $5 classes all day and fun events, all to benefit families of fallen officers. I would have liked to do a spin and then yoga, but the spin classes were already on waitlist when I tried to get a spot on Thursday.

The grand opening party was a fantastic idea from a marketing perspective. I don’t know what their normal Saturdays have been looking like, but the little club was swarming. In fact, I pulled up to see they were valeting cars. Valet for yoga? Am I in LA?!

The building is nice, a repurposed club with great outdoor and indoor space that also used to be called the Madison Improvement Club, only the original was a meeting place for a women’s society, and has a lot of the “old is new and now modernly green” Arcadia charm. It was crowded with everyone rushing around, but had a great vibe among the staff and students.

I found a spot in the large yoga studio – I overheard that about 50 people had signed up, and it was pretty tight, but the room was somehow designed to fit something like 75 – the 90ish degrees a welcome change from the cold spell that had hit overnight leaving Phoenix in the 30s outside. The class was clichely full of mostly young women and middle-aged men who needed attention. I ended up next to a woman about my age who asked if I was spinning too and said she had been to the club before and that it’s “addicting.”

That's me! Front row behind the instructor in the teal getting my Warrior A on.

That’s me! Front row behind the instructor in the teal getting my Warrior A on.

The flow itself was good – traditional Vinyasa, somewhat basic and I worked up a good sweat in the heat – but it was definitely more of a dictation vs. instruction and the dictator (haha) walked around reading her phone?! It was like those restaurants where the waiter explains that he’s not being a douche on his phone, but it’s how they enter the orders because it’s cool. In the yoga setting, it felt like she didn’t know what she was doing and was reading a flow cheat sheet! I’m always super impressed with teachers who can give the class a great, intricate flow and then not miss a beat when repeating it on the left side. Then again, maybe she was bored and checking out Twitter!

The class didn’t start on time and didn’t end on time, which I chalked up to the rush of the party day, but don’t worry, plenty of yogis decided to leave whenever they found it appropriate for them! I hate that! I also noticed before class started, people were stepping on others’ mats and some wore their shoes into the space (though, thankfully not the same ones stepping on mats). I know a lot of newbies commit these faux pas just because they don’t know, but they need to figure it out! Yoga snob rant over.

So, a good workout, a little trendy for my tastes (try not to laugh if you check out the website), but I do like variety every now and then. The Madison offers first yoga class and first spin sesh free for locals so I’ll probably go back and try out the spin “party on a bike” or another yoga class with one of the big names in valley yoga circles – they have quite a few teaching for them!

Workout Giant: Bikram Yoga

What like it’s hard?

Just kidding!  It is tough! 

I’ve been baby stepping my way toward Bikram since I started practicing…first with traditional yoga, then warm yoga, then hot (but not humid) Bikram + Ashtanga hybrid yoga.  I’m pretty sure there are no more steps, so when I saw a Living Social deal for five classes for $25 at a nearby studio I’ve been wanting to try – Bikram Yoga North Scottsdale – I jumped on it and took my first class last Friday. 

I was unable to get a hold of the studio beforehand, so decided to try my luck at just showing up a bit before the class.  Everyone was so welcoming!  I wasn’t sure who worked there and who was just a super nice yogi trying to help out the newbie! 

They were also quite concerned that I wouldn’t be able to hang in the 105-degree/40% humidity studio.  Their warnings of “just make it your goal to stay in the room,” and “put your head between your knees over your heart if you need to rest,” freaked me out a bit! 

Turns out I’m a lot tougher than I look.  I dripped sweat throughout, but it felt great to complete the practice.

Bikram is a very regimented practice (90-minutes, 26 postures) so I suppose the instructor’s regimented style was appropriate, but it wasn’t really for me, so I’ll probably seek out others to see if it was just her or if it’s the studio in general. 

I missed the mind-body-spirit connectivity I’m used to as well as the different level options for poses and the “play time” that encourages me to challenge myself.  BUT..my gym doesn’t offer a class on Friday to end the week and start off the weekend, so I am so happy that BYNS has one and think I’ll use up my passes to supplement my regular yoga schedule with a calming and sweaty Friday afternoon sesh for the next few weeks!

I have to mention that generally, I’m wary of using Groupon or Living Social because the few I’ve done always seem to end up with poor service and grumpy staff who weren’t ready for the rush of business that comes with giving it away for practically nothing.  (I actually had to request a refund for one I bought for a nail salon in Vegas because the salon had shut down to regroup and amp up for the amount of people who were trying to schedule appointments and they weren’t going to be open during my trip there!  Groupon was great about the refund though!)

When the studio wasn’t answering their phones in the week after the offer went up, I was nervous, but like I said, everyone was welcoming and they seemed to have a great system for the working with the purchasers.  The class had plenty of space and when I asked if I needed to call or sign up online for space in future classes, the lady simply said, “nope, now that you’re started, you’re part of the family.”  How wonderful is that?!

A Baby Yogi

I like yoga.  If you had asked me a week ago, you would have gotten quite a different answer, but I’ve taken four classes in the past week and it’s on its way to love.

I’ve never been a real fan of it.  I considered it boring and too new agey.  Maybe I like it now because I’ve gotten more new agey, maybe it’s because I see the benefits of it and see that I need those benefits.  Maybe I like it because I’m folding it into my regular training, so my cardio-addict ways aren’t suffering.

As with anything, it’s about the right fit.  I’ve been practicing at Yoga on the Rocks, which is a new yoga studio inside Arizona on the Rocks, the rock climbing gym in North Scottsdale.

The space they created upstairs is perfect.  I was expecting a large room, probably because that’s what I’m used to in big box gyms, but it’s very intimate and there are no mirrors or windows to the outside to make you feel awkward, which, as a beginner is super important.  The room is decorated simply with candles around the perimeter, paper lanterns, a sound-sealed door and a Gandhi quote on the wall.

My four classes have been with three different instructors, each with their own style and flow series, but so far, I’ve liked them all.  When I head into class, I know I’m there to work.  Feeling like I’m sitting and breathing and napping for an hour is what I’ve not liked about it in the past.

I actually felt today for the first time that I’ve made improvements in my flexibility and balance, which is something I’m really hoping to improve.  I’ve even successfully done this in TWO of my classes:

The best part – and the initial draw – is that since it is a new studio, they are offering free classes for the first two weeks.  That’s pretty great marketing if you ask me!  Each class I’ve been in has been mostly full and full of great reviews afterward, so I think they are off to a great start.  They’ve already made me a convert!

Killer Tofu

New levels of crunchiness are being reached every day.

I bought tofu a while ago intending to make a recipe my parents suggested to me but I never got around to it.  The veggies that went with it didn’t last long and I used them in other ways before they went bad but that tofu has been staring at me for weeks and the expiration date was coming up, so I figured it was now or never.

Now, I could have gone to the store and bought the veggies again, but let’s be honest, if I went to the store, I’d probably find awesome dollar brie again and end up eating it with a loaf of fresh French bread for dinner.  Gosh, it’s hard to be a single twenty-something these days. 

So, I decided to use what I had.  Since this was my first time cooking with tofu, I just kinda wanted to learn the ropes.

I pressed the extra firm tofu for a bit, chopped it up a bit, sautéed it a bit and ate it a bit.  I’d give better instructions, but I got my info here, so you might as well just check that out.

It was good, but needs a little something.  I’m glad I’ve lost my adult tofu-ginity (considering how I lost it as a child – my mom’s infamous, forced-fed tofu meatballs – I wasn’t sure it was going to happen again) and plan to include more in my diet. 

Well, after I finish this first batch of leftovers!

When Life Hands You Rice, Make Rice Pancakes

I made rice the other night.  I can’t remember if I’ve ever made rice before, so A. I was intimidated because I’ve heard it’s pretty dang easy to mess up, B. I didn’t realize how long it was going to take and C. I didn’t think about how much cooked rice would result from preparing a cup of uncooked.

A girl can only eat so many burritos. 

I wanted to use what I already had and I LOVE B4D (also known as breakfast for dinner or brinner), so I was thrilled when I came across a recipe for rice pancakes that called for ingredients I already had in my kitchen!

The baker who posted it on AllRecipes.com said she came up with the recipe to accommodate a lot of food allergies.  I guess the pull is that they’re gluten-free and could be made vegan with the substitution of soy or almond milk.*

Rice Pancakes
1 cup cooked rice (mine was brown)
1 cup milk
1 and 1/4 cups rice flour (I didn’t have and used regular, therefore, mine were not gluten-free)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons applesauce
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Combine all ingredients with a hand mixer for 2 minutes and (shocker!) cook them as you would regular pancakes.  Makes six average-sized pancakes.

As a very novice pancake-flipper, I really appreciated that theses pancakes held together pretty well in the pan.  The rice made them dense and moist, but they weren’t too “ricey” (even though my kitchen ended up smelling like a chinese restaurant).  They pretty much just tasted like pancakes! 

Last night I topped with syrup and this morning I’m taking one to work with some jam.  Yum!

I still have a lot more rice left over, so I just might have to make them again.  Such a sacrifice!

*I think.  I don’t follow either of these diets strictly and am not 100% sure of the ins and outs.  Please correct me if I’m wrong!